SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Despite the common misconception that science fiction (SF) is aimed at predicting the future—Orwell writing in 1948 to predict the world of 1984—SF often seeks to criticize the contemporary conditions of the writer’s time as well as to capture the enduring truths confronting humanity. To that second end, Orwell in 1984 dramatizes the political use of language to mislead, not to inform.
And it is with Orwellian grace that we now have President Barack Obama calling for “political courage” related to funding education...
I can still remember the first time I listened to Heroin. I was 18 and Rock & Roll was an escape valve for the growing alienation that accompanies becoming. My friend and I had secured an overnight shift at a local college radio station, to satisfy not only our desire for rebellion, but also as an expression of our fumbling adolescent attempts at grasping onto something more authentic than the often disingenuous moral certitude expressed by the institutions that defined our life in a small southern town. The transformation from the magic of childhood, a time of seemingly wondrous unlimited potential, to the ‘realistic’ and confining roles we are forced to assume as young adults; is never an easy transformation. The sting of becoming something limited from that which was once unlimited led me, and many of my adolescent friends who did not survive the transition, to look for identity and transcendence in frequent drug use, occasional sex, and the ever present beat of Rock & Roll.
Fei Xiaotong, a world-renowned Chinese anthropologist, visited America in the 1940's and thought it was a country devoid of ghosts. Americans live in brightly lit cities, he noted. They illuminate all parts of a room. They believe in individual progress -- not clanship, not past history. Americans move about, forming few, if any, permanent ties to places and people. So how could ghosts find room to dwell in such a place?
But the bright and shiny ghost-less land that Mr. Fei saw in World War II-era America is long gone. The America that believed in technology as a solution to all things, that believed in upward mobility as the norm, that saw itself as defender of the world from evil, has become almost a century later a landscape where ghosts comfortably dwell.
“Guns are not toys,” my military father taught me as a youngster, as hunter parents also tend to teach their children. “Toys are not guns,” police and sheriff deputies should learn. Confusing them can be deadly.
Officers sworn to serve, protect, and keep the peace should not show off their guns to children and put them in their eager hands. This happened in August of 2011 here in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Northern California. The community was not happy about that, and it is even more angered now.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty-four corporations that voluntarily disclosed information about their donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave the trade association $6.5 million in non-tax-deductible contributions last year, which is significant because that money can be used to influence elections. This money represents less than 4 percent of the U.S. Chamber’s average annual spending, revealing how little information is available about the giant trade group, which has spent more than $1 billion on lobbying since 1998, a new Public Citizen report shows.
In a historic decision five Catholic Worker activists were acquitted earlier this evening of disorderly conduct charges for blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard, Syracuse, New York.
Hancock is a Reaper drone hub whose technicians pilot weaponized drones over Afghanistan. The five went “pro se,” defending themselves in the De Witt town court of Judge Robert Jokl.
In his closing statement Fr. Bill Picard said, “We pray for you, Judge Jokl, to have the courage to do the right and courageous thing.”
The Occupy Sandy community has changed the face of disaster relief. Our network of more than 50,000 volunteers provided over 300,000 meals, remediated over 1000 homes, and provided over a million dollars' worth of donated supplies by working with our neighbors to provide mutual aid throughout the rebuilding process.
Some folks have returned to their normal lives, but many remain affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our people-powered movement built something incredible, but we need your help to continue to move residents back into their homes, assist them in rebuilding their lives, and amplify the voice of communities in their own recovery. We need your help to support our ongoing work.
Dear Esteemed Brothers,
On the way back from my father’s village, I’ve decided to take time to think over topics connected to our common interests. News of your conquests in America first reached us here in the backwater like word of a distant storm. It was in the mouth of Yoweri Museveni that I first heard your name. My friends, I beg you. Listen well. The goat with the keenest ears never ends up with okra in the village stew.
Washington D.C. – Three years ago, newly elected governors in several states decided to outsource economic development functions to “public-private partnerships” (PPPs). Together with a handful of other states’ PPPs, these experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures characterized by misuse of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest, excessive executive pay and bonuses, questionable subsidy awards, exaggerated job-creation claims, lack of public disclosure of key records, and resistance to basic oversight.
The primary problem with weaponized drones is that the weapons murder people. And they murder people in a way that looks more like murder to a lot of observers than other forms of military murder do — such as murder by indiscriminate bombing or artillery or infantry or dropping white phosphorous on people. When President Obama looks through a list of men, women, and children at a Tuesday terror meeting, and picks which ones to murder, and has them murdered, you can call it a war or not call it a war, but it begins to look to a lot of people like murder.